IT seems that when we aren’t distracted by the brouhaha over Sen. Grace Poe’s search for her parents, Rodrigo Duterte’s cursing and threats of violence and execution against all criminals, and the long-drawn out Senate hearings versus Jejomar Binay, what we find is a nation in shambles.
But of course we will not hear the President, or the man on top of his list of presidentiables, Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas, admitting this. From where they stand, things are wonderful on matuwid na daan, and they’ve done so much to change the course of the nation.
I do not doubt that the shift to K-to-12 was something that we needed to do, for many reasons including ASEAN Integration, which we signed up for long ago.
But we also know now that it does not answer the problems of our educational system. One too many textbooks and modules for K-to-12 are badly written, and are not even grammar and spell-checked. I, for one, have wasted way too much time on the K-to-12 Learning Portal, and find not just problems with the way the modules are written, but even bigger problems with its contents. (Learning Resource Management and Development System website, ©2013)
If this is what “decongesting and enhancing the basic education curriculum” looks like, then we’re in big trouble. To even say this is about “providing better quality education for all” just seems delusional. (Gov.ph, 2 Nov 2010).
Because at the very least, one expects flawlessly written textbooks and learning materials, the kind that will make us believe that critical to the K-to-12 shift was an insistence on the best kind of education we can give Filipinos. Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Commissioner Cynthia Rose Bautista has said: “K-to-12 is a means to produce more mature, more competent graduates … It’s not just the additional years, it’s the entire change in curriculum.” (GMAnetwork.com, 5 May 2015).
But what is an ideal curriculum without well-written learning materials? What is a curriculum that has art and music, but with highly questionable and arguable content?
What is the value of the best curriculum ever if the teachers who will be implementing these in the classroom are not given just wages? DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro says they have a budget that allows them to handle more than 1.2 million students entering Grade 11. (GMANetwork.com, 5 May).
ACT Teachers Party-list has called for the suspension of K-to-12 because of lack of preparedness. “The government is not prepared to implement a 12-year Basic Education Cycle mandated by K-to-12, as manifested by the actual insufficiency of classrooms, libraries, toilets, and other facilities; textbooks, modules, and other instructional materials; teachers, non-teaching staff, maintenance staff and other education sector personnel in the old 10-year Basic Education Cycle.” (Act-Teachers.com, 17 March).
I just wonder: How can K-to-12 be implemented without first deciding in favor of just wages for our teachers, the ones who are most valuable to its implementation?
How can we speak of respecting our teachers, when we cannot even pay them wages commensurate to the work they do?
Because that is what just wages are about. It’s about respect. It’s about telling a person that s/he is critical to the system.
Yet if there’s anything that has been revealed in the past two months or so, it’s the fact that under this administration, labor woes are aplenty, and the situation is critical.
The Kentex fire revealed that there are not enough safeguards for factory workers, many of whom are forced to say yes to contractual work in overcrowded, unsound, unsafe structures. It’s easy to imagine that it is the city government that is at fault regarding the state of the building, but the state of labor in the country, which has allowed Kentex to hire more workers under conditions of subcontracting and the two-tiered wage system, that is the responsibility of the Labor Department, the government office that is supposed to protect our workers.
But between the Talents Association of GMA (TAG) and Tanggulan Ugnayang Daluyang Lakas ng Anakpawis sa Tanduay Distillers Inc. (TUDLA), we are given a sense of the breadth and scope of this Labor Department’s failures. It also reveals how in the end and ultimately, this government has not only failed at protecting our workers, it has also allowed for capitalists to get away with … well … murder.
Arriving from his State Visit to Japan, the President declared that he had some really good news. Among many things, Japanese brand Uniqlo might build a manufacturing plant in the country that will employ thousands of workers.
That sounded more threatening than anything else, more reason for worry. Where the President thinks foreign investments are a great thing, one knows it only means more opportunities for capitalists to take advantage of the unjust labor conditions in this country, the kind that our own Labor Department turns a blind eye to.
Hooray for the President’s good news.
Beneath our feet
While media might distract us with the more superficial news of politicians bickering and Presidentiables fighting for some camera time, recently it has become more and more obvious that the ground we stand on is shaking beneath our feet.
Like waist-deep floods after less than an hour of rain in the city, it now takes so little to reveal what this government has done wrong for the past five years, and what matuwid na daan has truly meant for the rest of us on the ground.
Rhetoric has never been so empty as it is today. Happy independence day.